The last time I ran the Grand I took out at Diamond, but I hear that Pearce ferry is worth blowing down to by even maybe doing a night float. Better road, better take out, no fees. Just want to gather some opinions. Any thoughts?
Pearce Pros: Better road, no fees, easier shuttle. Can be done in similar timeframe as taking out at Diamond.
Cons: Not really much for good camps below Separation. Many people are ready to be done by the time you get to Diamond.
I personally like the night float and taking out at Pearce, and if somebody's going to drive my truck to a takeout, I'd much rather that be Pearce. It's not a smooth road, but it's much better than the DC road. If it's a full painless private where MOE, PRO, etc will be picking you up anyway, do Diamond.
I've done it twice. First time we were early. I can't remember if it's cause of the high water (25kcfs constant on that trip), or if we just passed/left Separation early. I do remember finding the last 2 shooters on the trip on the barge in the dark, and we got to Pearce Ferry in the dark and slept before taking out. Second time we followed Brady's instructions pretty closely, and it got light about the time we got to Grand Wash Cliffs. That trip was a high flow experiment trip, but by the time we were taking out, I recall normal (10-14?) flows.
I just took out at Pearce for the first time. It was on a commercial that I was rowing bags for. I was surprised that 2 privates took out there as well instead of going to Pearce. I think I would choose Pearce always over diamond and night float personally. I have done that a few times now.
The first 20 or 30 miles below Diamond is worth the Pearce Ferry take-out; including Travertine Falls, crazy currents in the narrow canyon, Killer Fang Rapid. The last 20 or 30 miles isn't; limited camping, 60 foot silt banks, helicopter tours, Grand Canyon Skywalk. The night-float is a good option for this last stretch.
I recommend Pearce, especially during monsoon season. We did a trip this summer, arranging to take out at Diamond. However, the day before our take-out day, we learned that a huge flood wiped out the road. So, in the last 24 hours of our trip, we ended up going 80+ miles, including a night float to Pearce. If I were to plan a future trip, I would plan to take 16 days to get to Diamond, camp somewhere below, spend the next day doing the 230 rapids (which are fun), Travertine falls, having dinner at Separation, barging the boats together, and float out to Pearce at night. Take turns at the oars, while others sleep. Bring big flood lights so you can see (strong head lamps don't really do the job), and make sure people have warm things to sleep in (it gets pretty cold, even at the end of July). I would probably never plan to take out at Diamond again.
I'm not keen on giving $1000 to a group that I don't really consider good stewards of the resource (but I appreciate the costs of maintaining the Diamond Cr. Road) , and I druther put that money towards another half week exploring the lower (lowest) part of The Canyon. We had a few really special days there and it felt like a bonus. It takes on a new personality below Diamond, and the time spent getting back to Flag after take out is about the same. If you're going to Vega$ it is even easier. Ya there is a crazy helicopter zone, but it was short, kinda entertaining in it's own way, and I remember a lot more of the canyon experience than I do the choppers. In fact, I kinda had a little bit of a superiority complex knowing that while they had a sweet sunset view, they had nothing close to the experience our group had for the last 3 weeks. Group needs and dynamic will always dictate the take out, but I'll press for Pearce from now on.
If you set yourself up well with your last camp, It's about 7 or 8 hours from Surprise or Spencer to the couple of camps just above Pearce. There is a lot of fun stuff below Diamond as far as rapids and hiking.
I've done night floats and I wouldn't recommend it...you miss the scenery and will probably get hung up on a silt bar. I find the zoo around the Skywalk with the heli's and boat rides more amusing than annoying.
I have enjoyed monitoring the death of Lake Mead over the years, I knew the section of river below Diamond really well in the 70's when I lived in Las Vegas. Paddling the lake was a hell journey back then that I did regularly in my kayak just to get those 12 miles of river.
Good Luck, I'm sure you'll hear some whining from folks who would rather get to run perfect whitewater up to their front yards than have to work for it.
Surprising that there is near-unanimity for Pearce.
I've done Pearce twice and Diamond never. Night float once, from above Diamond in a very long day with a motor once. Always had a feeling that taking out at Diamond was the "first class" option and that we were flying coach by cruising down to Pearce. But this thread makes me feel like we chose well...
By the time you hit Diamond most of your group will likely be ready for a hot shower, a fresh meal, and home, but the extra $$ of Diamond has never seemed worth it to us. But we also pack our own coolers and get friends to run our shuttle for favors. 100% Dirtbag.
The time we ran all the way past Diamond to Pearce in a day (motoring past the helicopters on the flat), we planned to camp but never found a camp that was at all appealing, and so we got to Pearce around dark or a little after (August, so 9pm) the day before our planned takeout. Rangers were really suspicious of us that we were going to break the cardinal rule and spend the night at the takeout, especially when one of our group broke out the kitchen and cooked a much needed dinner for us while the rest de-rigged. The rangers pretty much hovered over us and didn't offer to tell us where we could camp--only where we couldn't, I'm still not sure if there are options near the takeout. Ended up driving a half a mile from the takeout and driving up some side dirt road and literally sleeping in the middle of the road cause we were so beat.
I enjoyed the run below Diamond Creek, the canyon and rapids directly below were fun and the transition as the canyon opens up makes for a change is scenery and brings completion to the trip.
Because it's mellow down there is not to say planning isn't needed, there's not a lot of good camping spots, so it pays to be mindful of that. I didn't find the helicopters that big an annoyance it's just what it is on that rio.
Have never done the night float thing, we were game for it but it never materialized. I did notice there were quite a few large tree snags, just breaking the surface or just under it and sometimes the river braided into places that were raft sticking shallow. Probably wouldn't be all that much fun to hang up several tons of rafted up boats at 3am.
We just came off on Nov 6th. Separation is gone. We camped a few miles below separation and it wasn't bad. The we left a bit late on our night float and had to row hard for 15 miles in the morning to make sure we caught our shuttle drivers to return our groovers. We made the distance thanks to my strong boat mate taking shifts with me.
We had Canyon Reo bring our vehicles with trailers right to the ramp and pick up our groovers. This was better than a shuttle company picking us up at Diamond then transferring boats and gear from their truck/trailer to ours after a long trip.
Plus if you take off at Diamond you didn't really run all of the rapids in the Grand. Some of those after Diamond were pretty fun.
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